Calves could be extremely difficult to build and many athletes have problems with them.
Today I will share with you different exercises for calves. Also, I will give you some hints and tips on how to train them properly.
In order to understand how the calves work, I will start with the anatomy of the muscle group. There are two muscles in the calves – the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The soleus lies behind the gastrocnemius. The difference between them is that the soleus crosses one joint (the ankle) whereas the gastrocnemius crosses two joint (ankle and knee). That is a fundamental point to know when targeting those muscles. I will give you an example. When performing a seated calf raise and your knee is in the 90-degree angle it places the gastrocnemius in more relaxed position. In this scenario, the primary working muscle is the soleus. In seated calf raises to make sure to push the ball of your foot instead of with your toes. Also, place the pads slightly behind the knees to avoid additional strain. The toes should point forward.
The gastrocnemius has two origins like the biceps and it’s composed of two heads. I will give you few tips and tricks how to balance those heads. I found that one leg or unilateral raises work very well for balancing the heads. Many trainees believe that pointing the toes on different directions could target the heads better. I never found that to be true. Furthermore, this places the ankle into the unnecessary strain.
- Don’t bounce at the bottom
- Get a slight stretch on the bottom and pause for a sec
- Full range of motion
- Peak contraction at the top
- Squeeze it and hold it for a sec
- Perform one leg at a time to work on both heads
- Seated calf raise
- Calf press on leg press machine
- Standing calf raises
Calves are very resilient as we walk all day long. Also, calves are genetically predisposed to a greater degree than any other muscle or muscle group. If you have problems building this body part like me I would suggest applying a combination of relatively heavy load and a high number of repetitions. The load should be adjusted to complete 20-25 repetitions per set with good form.